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Factors Impacting 2018 Payable Levies
Taxing districts are limited to collecting no more than 1% over their Highest Lawful Levy since 1983. However, the legislature can pass certain types of new levies, and the voters can give districts the authority to exceed the 1% limit by approving lid lifts and excess levies. These are the recent actions of the Legislature and the voters that are impacting property taxes this year:  
  • Engrossed House Bill 2242: The 2017 Legislature passed Engrossed House Bill (EHB) 2242 to meet its Constitutional obligation to fully fund basic education for public schools.  EHB 2242 temporarily changes the State levy from the current budget-based system to a rate-based system.  The total rate for the State levy was fixed at $2.70 per thousand dollars of assessed value, and is equalized based on each county’s sales ratios as determined by the Department of Revenue sales ratio study.  In Cowlitz County, the equalized rate for 2018 payable is $2.90 per thousand, which is an increase of $0.76 from the 2017 State levy rate
  • Toutle Lake School District: Voters approved a replacement M&O levy for $1.11 million each year over three years beginning in 2018.  The M&O levy rate for 2018 is $2.67 and is expected to be reduced to $1.50 in 2019 with the passage of EHB 2242.                
  • Woodland School District: Voters approved a replacement M&O levy for $4.5 million dollars in 2018, increasing by $250,000 in each of the following two years. The M&O levy rate for 2018 is $2.56 and is expected to be reduced to $1.50 in 2019 with the passage of EHB 2242.
  • Cowlitz County Fire Protection District #1: Voters approved a single-year permanent levy lid lift, authorizing the district to exceed the 1% limitation and to establish its regular property tax levy at the statutory maximum of $1.50 per thousand.  This increased the levy rate for Fire #1 by approximately $0.62 from the prior year.  Because it is a permanent lid lift, this raised limit will serve as the base for levy limitations in subsequent years.
  • City of Castle Rock: Voters approved a city excess levy for library services for 2018 totaling $62,505 which equates to about $0.43 of the total City of Castle Rock levy rate.
  • EMS District No. 1: Voters approved a one-year excess levy totaling $267,214 for maintenance and operation of the North Country Emergency Medical Service District.  This is in addition to the regular EMS #1 levy of $0.45 per thousand and is an increase to the overall levy rate by $0.93 from the prior year.
  • Cowlitz County Fire Protection District #2: In 2016, voters approved $11 million general obligation bonds over 20 years; Collection for this bond in 2018 payable is $765,000 which is $0.28 per thousand of assessed value.
  • Cowlitz County Fire Protection District #6: The 2018 payable year is the second year of a 6-year temporary lid lift. The levy rate was $0.42 in 2016, increased to $1.19 last year and is $1.06 per thousand dollars of assessed value for 2018 payable.
  • EMS District No. 3: In 2016, voters approved a permanent EMS levy of up to $0.50 per thousand dollars of assessed value.  The levy rate was $0.24 in 2016, then increased to $0.49 last year and will be $0.43 for 2018.

It’s important to remember that Washington uses a budget-based property tax system. The formula to calculate levy rates is: District Budget ÷ AV in the District = Levy Rate.  If a taxing district is authorized to collect $10,000 then they will collect $10,000 regardless of the property value in the district. The value only determines the rate necessary to collect the authorized amount.

                        


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